Untitled Document

Posted by teoman madra | Wed May 14th 2003 4:56 p.m.

  • teoman madra | Wed Jul 2nd 2003 5:55 a.m.
    submission from beral madra on 50.venice biennale mailto:btmadra@tnn.net
  • Caterina Davinio | Wed Jul 2nd 2003 7:56 a.m.
    Too many words to conclude that this year there was no Venice Biennial, but
    a macroscopical Art Fair. Market-oriented, non-cultural, in the sign of the
    mere accumulation out of any sense, but with the essential hypocrisy and
    claim to be alternative (alternative to what? a Biennial is anyway
    institutional), focalizing on clandestines, cultures, and other "ethnic"
    mode-flags, and common places, clandestines well filtered through the main
    NY, Detroit, Chicago galleries...
    Chaos, but in a sense affected, careful. This made nervous an intelligent
    Fluxus? No real open project, like were Oreste Project or Poetry Bunker in
    the Szeemann's Biennials, Utopia Station? dated, armored, not open.
    Extra50 exhibitions? under the level of what a Biennial should be, were
    "selected" to pay 6000 euro to the Biennial Institution to participate,
    these projects, not properly in the Biennial, were introduced to finance
    part of the Biennial, I think.
    Honestly I found the curator's presentation generical;
    problem is that the words, differently from the images, has not only an
    impact, but should have a sense, a meaning... what is an "exhibition of the
    exhibitions", an abdication of the curator's role? or more probably a
    tribute to other curators of the network?
    This Biennial is agreable for the spectators eye because it is not new, It
    has nothing more than the past three Biennials, but has something less, In
    front of the humanistic "plateau of mankind" by Harald Szeemann, the
    "dictatorship of the viewer " is a slogan, anyway a dictatorship is not
    modern, or post-modern, or post-post-modern, is a negative concept in any
    case; beside: there is no dictatorship of the viewer in this Biennial, it is
    only a word in the title, no real discourse on media, on television, no new
    media culture, is present (video is an old medium, like it is painting), but
    all carefully focalized to make strong the "market dictatorship". It is not
    a case the return to painting.
    Anyway a Biennial is an institutional place, conservative, was never a good
    place for art revolutions, and cooptates some revolutionary only rarely.

    But, who invests in art is really sure that this art that now is running
    under the dictatorship of the world network will walk enough in a
    short-medium future? Don't they have an Internet connection? This Biennial
    exhibition was made for the market, but even the investment is not sure,
    because the cultural level of the market and of the collectors has grown, so
    maybe who calculated too much, could not have the expected vantages...
    Art is very bad, sometimes.

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "teoman madra" <spq@turk.net>
    To: "list" <>
    Sent: Tuesday, June 24, 2003 12:39 AM
    Subject: RHIZOME_RAW: Untitled Document

    > submission from beral madra on 50.venice biennale mailto:btmadra@tnn.net
    > http://inlimbotheshow.com/about50essimavenicebiennale-eng-.htm


    > Untitled Document
    > As a hyper exhibition of artworks under the grandiose title of
    Dreams and Conflicts: The Viewers Dictatorship, the 50th Venice Biennale is
    fiercely decisive for the 70's and 80's protagonists and wide open to the
    expectations of young generation artists, designers and architects. By
    placing reknown/unknown, rich/poor, optimist/pessimist,
    compasionate/cold-blooded artists from three generations and different
    socio-political and economical backgrounds, side by side, the curators of
    the Arsenale shows have broken the rules of hierarchy within the
    international art-world and arranged a confusing track for the viewer.
    However, the remains of the old rules were still to be observed in the group
    exhibition in the Italian Pavilion, where there is that conservative, subtle
    and balanced transitions from one artist to the other.
    > The everlasting modernist order of pavilions in the Giardini seek to
    restore the damaged sense of equilibrium of the viewer. The conflict between
    the new pursuit for modernist aesthetics and the post-modern, contaminating
    everyday simulations furnished the biennale with a chaotic structure, which
    could be exciting, if it was consciously made. Evidently, it is an almost
    impossible task to orchestrate more than 60 curators (pavilions, arsenale,
    extra 50) to a more or less harmonious tune. The viewer on the other side,
    coming to Venice for the opening days, was not able to consume the event (8
    exhibitions in the Arsenale, 30 pavilions in the Giardini, 20 pavilions in
    the city and the 50 Extra) in its entity...
    > In Venice Biennale, due to its national representations, artists
    from countries with obscure political and economic infrastructures have to
    breathe side by side with artists from well-fare democratic countries with
    omnipotent culture industries. A fact, which is a challenge, when
    articulated in an intelligent manner, but also requires a certain resistance
    from these artists. The flagrant manifestations of artists from the Asian
    territories profoundly reflected this urge for a better recognition, by
    elaborating the content and form of their works more than substantive. Very
    annoying were the performances and images of some of these artists, playing
    the role of the colonised or saluting self-orientalisation by articulating
    the traditional, folkloric and tourism elements, such as attractive
    traditional garments, zen meditation and accentuation of Asian or African
    identity. The lack of critical thinking and anachronism of some of the
    artists from the post-periphery is also evident in the artworks that are
    only dealing with the material to create mystical reflections on nature and
    life or exploiting it with decorative connotations. The number of the
    video-works were reduced in favour of paintings, evidently as a growing
    consensus between the curators and the art market. No doubt selected with
    care, but once more, the videos were the disputable in their form and
    content all over the biennale. The border between the journalistic documenta
    ry, narration, caricaturist commentary and conceptual work was blurred in
    many video-works and installations. On the other hand, this possibility of
    being on the same platform - even if it is an illusion- makes the Venice
    Biennale the most sought art place to be in. This year even Iran, which is
    one of the most introvert countries in the world, acquired a pavilion and
    realised its first participation in the 21st century.
    > Every year Venice is becoming more and more vulnerable; the heath,
    the humidity, the excessive biennale crowds induced the working conditions
    and the the infrastructure of the city. Customs was blocked, transportations
    was slow, electricity broke and after all the Venetians were in agony. Yet,
    they had to yield to the difficulties, because of the enormous income the
    biennale provides for the city every two year. The adventure of the
    participant country, which has no pavilion in the Giardini, starts with
    searching a space in the city, preferably on the main arteries of the
    labyrinth to catch the attention of the international art experts and the
    press. Available are palaces and churches with rents between 15000 to
    60000euro for six months. The next step is to provide accommodation for the
    artists and the exhibition crew, a choice between fairly expensive hotel
    rooms and apartments. For example for our group of five we had to pay around
    6000 euro for 10 days of accommodation. The transport of the works, the
    production and distribution of printed material, the production of works,
    the installation costs in the exhibition space, the maintenance of the
    exhibition etc. are exhausting the modest budgets of the countries with
    obvious economic deficiencies. Yet, for many Venetian individuals and
    groups, this burden has become a flourishing business.
    > 12th of June, when the biennale was opened to the press and media,
    the exhibitions in the Arsenale were 40% unfinished. The crowd, some among
    them barefoot and nearly all with fans in the hands, was streaming from
    exhibition to exhibition in the Corderie, where the magnificent space was
    divided to claustrophobic sections with white walls. It is hard to
    understand, after all it has been discussed about the transmission between
    the space and the art work, that curators and artists can sacrifice the
    grandeur of a historical space to the precarious existence of the artwork on
    white walls. Being intrusive, I witnessed how hastily the experts and the
    journalists were looking at the artworks; practically three or four days are
    not enough to look at the 400 artists exhibiting in different venues in
    Venice. So, the experts and the journalists have no possibility to discover
    something by themselves but to follow the rules and look at the artist
    already known and supported by well-established galleries, dealers, art
    critics and curators. The ecstatic - not to say hysteric - environment of
    the opening days is obviously an outcome of the art system, born in the late
    modernism and became a self-consuming grotesque in post-modernism. The
    actors of modernism were the artists creating ideologies; today the actors,
    favouring the system linked to the global kapitalism, are manipulating the
    position of the artists according to the requirements of the network. Within
    this network, the viewer is submissive, silent and confused.
    > Looking to the 8 exhibitions in the Arsenale, one can see the scheme
    of the network. The artists of the exhibitions who can never come side by
    side in the real life ( most of them probably have never met each other)
    seek here equal recognition. Have they ever discussed with each other the
    concept, installation and relation of the works and the exhibition?
    Prominent and protagonist artists of the recent past such as Art&Language,
    Gilbert&George, John Baldessari, Anselm Kiefer, Michelangelo Pistoletto,
    Roman Opalka and reknown architects such as Rem Koolhas, Araki Isozata,
    Hasan Fathy have accepted to exhibit with completely unknown names and
    newcomers in an environment where there is no inner dialogue and coherence.
    Their "noble" modernist works are put in collation with works that are
    articulating everday life realities and trivilaties, that have got off the
    rails. Seems to be an interesting turn in the history of contemporary art!
    > Utopia Station, at the furthest end of the Arsenale, is a
    mega-neo-fluxus show and the tail of the Biennale, as the rigidity of the
    national pavilions dissolve here into free debate and gain some political
    vision. It also immediately reminded me Progetto Oreste Uno, a creative
    initiative of a large group of artists of Italy coordinated by Cesare
    Pietrouisti, Pino Boreste and many others during the 48th Venice Biennale in
    the center of the Italian Pavilion. The fact that, interdiciplinary debate,
    process demonstration, employment of mass media technologies and strategies
    can reach larger and broader public, created a new generation of artists
    with one foot on the high art, the other on the mass media. Here, I will not
    write in depth about the pavilions of USA (an overloaded and repeated
    imagery of black identity), G.Britain (I have'nt seen such a decorative
    pavilion before), France (steril and distanced), Germany (would Kippenberger
    install this underground vent into the pavilion, when he had seen the last
    global war?) Japan and Corea (always in favour material and technology), as
    these will be reviewed extensively in newspapers and artjournals
    > The most striking event in the biennale was the two "closed"
    pavilions. The pavilion of Spain was sealed to acsesss by Santiago Sierra,
    with a crudely made wall behind the main entrance and by two policeman (!)
    in attendance at the back door, allowing only the viewers with the Spanish
    passport to enter. As Spain is a member of EU, even the acsess of EU
    citizens was restricted! This is an art work with effective political
    protest on what is happening in EU and Spain concerning the emigration
    politics. The closed Venezuela Pavilion is not an art work, but an act of
    censor by the Misnitry of Culture of Venezuela. One of the censored artists
    Pedro Morales insisted on coming to Venice to protest (please refer to
    (www.pedromorales.com; www.cityrooms.net; www.orinokia.com). In remarkable
    juxtaposition as artwork and reality, these metaphorically and factually
    sealed pavilions, do not only cast a doubt on the power of art, artwork and
    the artist within the state apparatus of the democracies and within the free
    forum of the biennale, but also on the role of the viewer, who is inactively
    watching the ambiguity. It is difficult to take a distance and annotate the
    works, I have seen in three days.
    > Bonami's intention to reflect a wide range and variety of
    contemporary art production became an accomplishment, so that one can
    neither track the statements of the curators of the international
    exhibitions nor find a consensus between the pavilions . Within the
    complexity of the biennale I could discriminate and categorize some facts: -
    There is a significant contradiction between the artworks of the well-fare
    Europe and USA artists and the artists of the rest of the world: The former
    are tranquil and latent and transformed art into a stratagem (for example
    Bruno Gironcoli in the Austrian Pavilion, Sylvie Eyberg and Valerie
    Mannaerts in the Belgian Pavilion, Jean-Marc Bustamante in French Pavilion,
    Candida Hofer in German Pavilion, Ruri in Iceland Pavilion, Little Warsaw in
    Hungarian Pavilion); the are in emergency and crisis and use art as a force
    (for example Sora Kim& Gimhongsok in The Zone of Urgencey, Ratomi
    Fani-Kayode in The Faul Lines). The memory of contemporary art plays its
    game too frequently... Since Jean Clairs Biennale genetic deformations or
    the post-human representation has been totally consumed and almost lost its
    excitement. Patricia Piccini's silicone creatures in the Australian
    Pavilion, Maurizio Cattelan's robot Charlie, Charles Ray's Female Figure and
    Berlinde de Bruyckere's "the black horse" in "Delays and Revolution"
    (Bonami& Birnbaum) are being chased by the phantoms of the works of the
    Chapman Brothers, Ron Mueck, Katherina Sieverding (Rat King) and Kiki Smith.
    Or, David Hammons' bronz Budhas may pray for safety (with safety pin on a
    string in between them), but this has been done before many times by Nam
    June Paik (since 1974).Haven't we seen enough cars/trucks before, for
    example Wim Delvoye's Cement Truck, Soo-Ja Kim "Cities on the Move in the
    48th Biennale ? Alfredo Juan's stainless steel jeep and Damien Ortega's
    decomposed VW, even with convincing concepts, look like surfeit examples.
    > There were two significant panel discussions during the biennale.
    The second version of Venice Agendas, organised by Audio Arts, London, Nuova
    Icona, Venice, Wimbledon School of Art, London, Cardiff School of Art
    &Design (UWIC), in association with the comissioners of Wales and Scotland,
    and supported by the British Council took place in Metropole Hotel. To three
    breakfast sessions, dealing with the issues and questions such as "Biennale
    in a new century", "The new and recent presences at the Biennale", and "Is
    the Biennale 'a charming anachronism' in danger of sinking?" prominent
    representatives of various institutions and free lance curators were invited
    to contribute. In fact, aside from the main pavilion, with the three of the
    new presences, Scotland with the exhibition "Zenomap" in Palazzo Giustinian
    Lolin, Wales exhibition in the ex-Birrerie in Giudecca and The Henry Moore
    Foundation exhibition "Stopover" in the newly restored Convento dei Santi
    Cosma and Damiano on the Giudecca, Great Britain was the most ambitious
    participant of the Biennale. This extensive presence reflects the apparent
    decentralisation and independence of regional art production and management
    as well as a fruitful competition between the institutions.
    > The two Giudecca venues were the most charming and suitable places
    among the places that can be acquired in Venice. These exhibitions were
    strategically highlighted with rich receptions and parties. This is another
    sign that the sanctity of the pavilion politics are being critically
    exploited by the new generation curators and artists. As to the question,
    whether the Biennale is a sinking ship, one could say that it is rather
    drifting than sinking. Drifting in the stormy global politics and economy
    waters. Looking back to the Biennale of 80's and early 90's, when the milieu
    was still naive, idealistic and romantic, the last biennale tend to be
    shrewd, sarcastic, an market-oriented with the sophisticated opening days
    visitor profile. However, the Arsenale shows, among them particularly the
    Utopia Station, with works of political content and statements may stir an
    argument among the protagonist intellectuals of the world, the biennale in
    its entirety seems to be powerless to resist the severe political agenda of
    the world. After all, at a time when on the political and economical level,
    new borders are being drawn between the regions, religions and cultures the
    Biennale (and all other multicultural exhibitions) aim to break the borders,
    at least in their concepts and contents! This task requires an effective
    theoretical and practical reciprocation and exchange from its components.
    Two grand scale exhibitions are being held in Praque and Klosterneuburg to
    accentuate this reality. Organized by Giancarlo Politi and Helena Kontova,
    editors of Flash Art magazine, together with Milan Knizak and Tomas Vlcek,
    directors of the National Gallery in Prague, the inaugural edition of the
    Prague Biennale aims to create a pluralistic vision of contemporary art. In
    this new biennale the concepts we are very familiar with "peripheries become
    the center," and "dissolution of the dichotomy between periphery and center
    " are going to be articulated by a large group of curators.
    > The other more accentuated event is Blood & Honey- Future's in the
    Balkans is curated by Harald Szeemann in Klosterneuburg. Sponsored by The
    Essl Collection 73 artists from Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria,
    Kosovo, Croatia, Greece, Macedonia, Moldova, Romania, Slovenia, Turkey and
    Serbia-Montenegro will exhibit their work on an area of 3,500 m2. The
    significant aim of this exhibition has been declared as "to awaken western
    sensitivity to the existence of this cultural landscape". What I can deduct
    from these actions is that the international contemporary art front is
    slowly approaching Middlest and Near Asia! To the other forum, CEI (Central
    European Initiative) www.ceinet.org organised by Trieste Contemporanea
    Committee www.tscont.ts.it under the auspices of Italian Ministry of Foreign
    Affairs, in collaboration with the Academy of Fine Arts of Venice and
    supported by CEI, Regione Autonoma Friuli Venezia Giulia and Beba
    Foundation, directors, experts and curators from Yugoslavia, Poland,
    Lithuania, Moldova, Hungary, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Croatia, Latvia,
    Slovenia, Romania, Russia, Macedonia, Turkey and Italy were invited. The
    ongoing fragility in the infrastructure and networking of the contemporary
    art institutions because of the economic and political deficiencies and
    instabilities was the main topic of this forum. After plenary sessions and
    workshops a declaration was signed by the participants, calling support from
    governments and international organisations in the form of continuous
    structural and financial contributions, stressing the autonomy and freedom
    of creativity from any type of political pressure and instrumentalisation
    and accentuating the necessity of exchange programs and partnership
    projects. It should not be overlooked that the presence of CEI countries in
    the Biennale after the wall, has immensely contributed to the totality as
    well as to the regeneration of the picture of contemporary art production in
    Europe. What should also not be overlooked in this years Biennale were the
    projects and products of various work-shop for the improvement of the urban
    and civil infrastructures of the city; a refreshing attempt to activate the
    engagement of the local and international viewer. The regeneration of the
    Archivio Storico delle Arti Contemporanee, The Cord, the spatial connection
    of the exhibitions with a 200m long steel cylinder created by a group of
    architects ( Archea Associati) and The Artificial Reserve, a project
    coordinated by Cesare Pietroiusti with the students of the Academy of Fine
    Arts of Venice were some of these new presentations.
    > I would like to go back to my catalogue text and examine the
    viewer's position in this mega-show. The ideologies of art maintain their
    function as being a part of social life and the critical conscious of the
    society, and artists face the situation in which patterns for orientation
    and action of the past no longer work more than the society. They are the
    ones who find new options and actions to provide answers for everyday life
    conflicts and major emergencies. With Paul Vanguiem 's words "Everyday life
    always produces the demand for a brighter light, if only because of the need
    which everyone feels to walk in step with the march of history. But there
    are more truths in twenty-four hours of a man's life than in all the
    philosophies." Despite all the generalization, standardization and totalizm
    in the world, this twenty-four hours still makes all the difference within
    the supremacy of the corporate economy and global politics. The bloodstained
    pages of the last decade, 11th September and its savage outcome is the
    production of everyday activity of the human being, which paradoxically has
    imprisoned and poisoned his/her everyday life. It is a perfect vicious
    circle! The artists, evidently aware of the eminence of it, approaches these
    twenty-four hours in detail, itemise and particularise the facts with
    his/her inevitable sophistication and self-contempt; the magnitude of this
    task can be seen in the images of desperation, emergency, clamour and
    transgression. The viewer generously but cunningly gives the artist the
    right to intervene into the minute details of the common life, and the
    authority to cry out his message to the world from a headland, to make him
    an accomplice...
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